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Earth's Interior & Plate Tectonics Unit Plan

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Earth's Interior & Plate Tectonics Unit Plan

Examining the relationship between the Earth's interior and exterior systems is a key part of understanding how the Earth has developed over its history. In Unit 2, students will begin to make these connections as they gather evidence to develop a model of the Earth's interior, its internal processes, and resulting continental plate movements.

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From Pangaea to the Present

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From Pangaea to the Present

If the continents moved over time, how an why could this have occurred? What can we investigate further that might provide clues about how and why the continents moved?

Alfred Wegener thought that the jigsaw puzzle appearance of continents,  as well as identical fossils and geographic formations, could be explained by the existence of a supercontinent in the ancient past that split apart over time. His theory, continental drift, was widely rejected and ridiculed because he could not explain how and why the massive continents could have moved. Additionally, Wegener also predicted that volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and mountain building could be explained by the continents moving.

In this unit, your task is to conduct investigations and collect evidence that will uncover the mystery of how and why the continents could have moved. Be sure to consider Wegener’s prediction that continental movement is associated with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and mountain building. 
 

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Inferred Properties of Earth's Interior: Three Level Guide to Diagram Interpretation

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Inferred Properties of Earth's Interior: Three Level Guide to Diagram Interpretation

Students explore the characteristics of P and S waves through a hands-on lab using slinkies and use an online simulation to make observations of seismic wave behavior in Earth's interior.

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Layering of Materials Lab

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Layering of Materials Lab

Students calculate the density of three liquids and make observations from a density column they create.

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Modeling Earth's Interior Processes Lab

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Modeling Earth's Interior Processes Lab

Students learn about the driving force behind plate motion by making observations from models of Earth's interior and its processes.

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Seismic Waves and Earth's Interior Investigation

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Seismic Waves and Earth's Interior Investigation

Students work in groups to complete this reading guide as a tool for navigating a complex text.

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What's Driving the Plates? 5E Instructional Model Plan

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What's Driving the Plates? 5E Instructional Model Plan

While Alfred Wegener produced evidence that the continents are in motion, he could not explain what forces could move them. In this 5E sequence students will explore models of Earth's interior processes in order to gain insight about what might be driving the motion of Earth's plates. Students will be able to explain the role of Earth's internal structure and properties in driving plate motion and crustal relationships.

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What's inside the Earth? 5E Instructional Model Plan

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What's inside the Earth? 5E Instructional Model Plan

The goal of this 5E instructional sequence is to help students understand how the characteristics of P and S waves determine the way they move and transfer energy through different materials, which in turn provide us information about the structure of Earth's interior. By using a hands-on activity and a simulator, students will be able to study the nature and behavior of P and S waves, and use these understandings to make inferences about the interior of the Earth.

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